Friday, 28 June 2013

REVIEW - THE STOKER


I often approach things from a musical perspective. I can't help it, having studied music for most of my life. And it's a commonly-known fact among musicians that the score of a film can change it entirely. Imagine Doctor Zhivago without even a peep from Maurice Jarre's gargantuan orchestra. Or a Michael Haneke film scored by John Williams. They'd be completely different films. Before scoring, The Stoker was a spare, sober, and cheeky little thriller with stains of black humour seeping through - like the Coen brothers' Blood Simple, say. But then the soundtrack... oh the soundtrack. The incessant poppy twang of the guitar, the bouncing bass, the cute thud of the electronic beat. The cheapness. The inanity. The hint of sardonicism in the film that isn't bolstered by the soundtrack, but obliterated by it. An occasional moment of silence, like the sun shining through the clouds after a pounding thunderstorm, spoilt all too quickly by SOUNDTRACK!!! Wretched soundtrack! Two or three tunes repeated ad infinitum. Mozart would be able to write every note of it from memory after the first five minutes. At least composers in the silent era had the sense to write more than two minutes' worth of unique score. Now deceased actor Mikhail Skryabin is certainly engaging in the leaSOUNDTRACK!!! MORE SOUNDTRACK!!! WORMING INTO THE DEEPEST CREVICES OF YOUR MIND, NEVER TO LEAVE, FOREVER TO HAUNT YOUR MEMORY!!! Despite the fine handle on tone, evil soundtrack aside, writer-director Aleksey Balabanov (also, sadly, now deceased) litters his film with amateur errors such as disappearing objects, and moving corpsSOUNDTRACK!!! DRIPPING ALL OVER AN OTHERWISE CLASSY WORK OF ART!!! VULGAR, SLOPPY CACK YOU'LL NEVER AGAIN WANT TO HEAR!!! There's a perfectly quirky final sequence, after Balabanov has found a little narrative momentum late on, which is like a bedevilled Ingmar BergmSOUNDTRACK!!! SOUNDTRACK!!! FUCKING SOUNDTRAAAAAAAACK!!! The Stoker would be at least twice the film it is with no soundtrack. At least. Truly, honestly, that's an understatement.